I'm an unrated player with some experience playing and studying various aspects of the game. If I had to give a subjective rating to myself, I would say 1000-1100. In all my quest for improvement, I have come across the suggestion, "Study end games first" multiple times, so I decided to start with that.

In the last three days I spent quality time understanding KP vs. K end game study. Was fortunate to stumble upon a very good wiki article, which very logically and completely explained the topic. Now I'm clear with the key squares, opposition, sixth rank, square of the pawn concepts in these studies. I have even effectively worked out several exercises on this topic to my own satisfaction.

That brings me to my current need. I would like to move ahead in logical phases, gradually adding more knowledge and experience to what I have already gathered, and without just jumping all over the place. So then, what would be the next rung of the logical ladder I should step on? What should I study next? And what study material could help me in an organized and phased manner of study?

Many thanks in advance.


3 Answers 3


The book I would recommend is "From Amateur to IM" by the British GM Jonathan Hawkins. Despite the title it is really all about playing the endgame.

It sounds like it fits in really well with what you have been doing because chapter 1 deals with the KP v K stuff you just finished studying. It goes on to cover stuff like:

1) Capablanca's Pawn Endgame (white king on g1, pawns on g2, h2 black king on g8, pawn on h7)

2) Essential Rook Engames

3) Bishop + Pawn(s) v Rook + Pawn(s)

4) Opposite Coloured Bishop endings, how to win with extra pawns, how to draw with fewer pawns

5) Minor piece endgames

6) KRB v KR

7) Minority Attack

8) Extra pawn on the queenside

This is mixed in with lots of stuff about plans in the endgame, steering the game towards endgame positions you have a good chance of winning, etc.

I've only got about half way through and in looking through the book to prepare this answer I've just had the shock of seeing a whole chapter in the second half of the book dedicated to an opposite coloured bishop position (from Aronian v Bacrot 2005) very similar to one in which I quickly accepted my opponent's draw offer a few days ago. Did I blunder?

On the one hand Hawkins' comment "For perhaps the first time in the game White had serious winning chances" was a bit of a blow. I was obviously much too ready to just shake hands. On the other hand this kind of position is so complex that it is worth a whole chapter and in the game itself after a lot more moves Bacrot made the mistake of resigning in a drawn position, so maybe I shouldn't feel so bad after all!

  • 1
    I just picked up this book (after seeing some recommendations about it by IM John Bartholomew)... and in the first 15 min. of skimming the beginning, I already picked up some neat tidbits that have helped me win two online games I might not have otherwise. I haven't had a chance to READ it... but if that's any indication, I'm going to be very happy with it.
    – Ghotir
    Commented Sep 15, 2016 at 19:55
  • I think that this book is excellent, but it is aimed at players with a rating closer to 2000 than 1000.
    – dfan
    Commented Sep 16, 2016 at 3:13
  • Many thanks, @BrianTowers. Looks attractive, going by the glimpse of the contents you have listed. Just one concern. Does this book explain the how, where and why of all those concepts in plain English? I ask this because I'm easily overwhelmed by books that simply spew strings after parenthesized strings of variations in algebraic notation expecting the reader to decipher the rationale behind it all. If the author explains the logic and rationale in English, I think I will mark this as one of the books to buy in the next few days. Please confirm. And many thanks, again. Commented Sep 16, 2016 at 6:56
  • @PradeepPuranik The explanations are excellent! Mixed in with the theory Hawkins does a lot of work on explaining the endgame plans you need. There is a lot more explanation than analysis. The book is also divided into 3 parts with several chapters in each part. The first part is "Thinking techniques" wherein he tries to explain the step by step logical approach you need when trying to win (or draw) an endgame position. This thinking technique then underlies the other two parts "Principles and essential theory" and "Endgame Exploration". There are also some exercises to solve.
    – Brian Towers
    Commented Sep 16, 2016 at 9:17
  • 1
    @jaxter " It seems to be (I haven't read it, so this is from other reviewers comments, primarily on Amazon) largely a publication of in-depth analysis of a small number of games" That's exactly what it's not. There is much in depth analysis of many game fragments, mostly endgames, covering a variety of different endgame types, with the emphasis on winning plans and drawing plans. This makes it the kind of book, rare for an endgame book, which you can actually pick up and read, rather than just use as a work of reference.
    – Brian Towers
    Commented Sep 24, 2016 at 19:45

I would recommend Silman's Complete Endgame Course which has a syllabus targeted by USCF rating as well as regular quizzes.

  • 1
    Heartily seconded. Most endgame books are ordered by subject, but this one is ordered by difficulty, so you don't get overwhelmed with more information than you can handle. I don't love Silman's writing style, but that's a small objection in comparison.
    – dfan
    Commented Sep 16, 2016 at 3:14
  • I'm familiar with Silman's books and articles on chess.com. I find a very strange dichotomy about them. True, his writing speaks to the layman and explains ideas in words, imparts the intended knowledge, and leaves the reader feeling good with a sweet after taste. However (and here I speak only for myself), it seems to leave something out (I cannot explain what). When faced with a challenging position in a game, or in exercises with multiple or unclear possibilities, I find myself unable to decide despite the fact that I am able to repeat all the positional advice I read in his books. Commented Sep 23, 2016 at 6:51
  • For the benefit of anybody else who may land up here and read these comments: In contrast to Silman's work, I found the two volumes titled "Predator at the Chessboard" (which also speak to laymen and explain in plain words all their intended ideas) a lot more helpful. After placing the order for the books I realized that all the material is freely available on the site: www.chesstactics.org Commented Sep 23, 2016 at 7:09
  • @PradeepPuranik Your recommendation of Predator at the Chessboard may be worthwhile, but it's about tactics, not endgames.
    – jaxter
    Commented Sep 24, 2016 at 6:49
  • Yes, my last comment was off-topic, but just mentioned it in general comparison to Silman's works. Commented Sep 28, 2016 at 7:28

Highly readable book with useful information and how to handle these most common positions. You are asked to work out some of the ideas yourself:

100 Endgames You Must Know: Vital Lessons for Every Chess Player

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